Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

POW/MIA Speaker Found to Be a Hoax; Veteran Also Charged for Claiming to Have Four Purple Hearts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

POW/MIA Speaker Found to Be a Hoax; Veteran Also Charged for Claiming to Have Four Purple Hearts

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

When Charles T. White stood up at Jacksonville Naval Air Station a few months ago to serve as keynote speaker at a POW/MIA Recognition Observation, he went into great detail about his career in the Navy and Marines. He talked about the 7' months he said he spent as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese and the four Purple Hearts he had won.

Now it appears the whole thing was a lie.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against the 68-year-old St. Augustine resident Tuesday, accusing him of violating the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 by claiming the Purple Hearts. The law makes it a federal misdemeanor to claim military honors that haven't been granted. White faces two years in prison and a $200,000 fine.

According to the military's Personnel Records Center, White also lied about being a POW.

Although he was in combat from July 9, 1966, to May 1, 1967, there is no record that White was held in three prison camps for a total of seven months, as he has said.

White received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with a star signifying participation in one campaign and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

There is no record that he received the Prisoner of War Medal or any Purple Hearts.

"This is such an insult to the men who earned the decoration he's wearing," said Mary Schantag, a historian with the POW Network, an organization that tracks real and fraudulent prisoners of war. "They want the honor and the integrity and the accolades, but they don't take the nightmares and the pain these men wake up with every morning."

White's phone number is unlisted. A woman who answered the door at his home said he was unavailable to comment.

Jacksonville NAS refused to discuss the matter, saying it was a civilian issue.

"This is a very unfortunate incident," said base spokeswoman Miriam Gallet. "The case is in the hands of the U.S. Attorney's Office and it would be inappropriate for me to comment."

So the base couldn't answer how White came to be the speaker at the POW event or how he was vetted.

PERSONNEL RECORD PROBLEMS

Many of the details that White told the base newspaper for an article leading up to the event are contradicted by the personnel record, which says the sailor was a seaman apprentice for the two years he was in the Navy, not a combat medical specialist. …

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